Right Thinking From The Left Coast
If everything seems under control, you're not going fast enough. - Mario Andretti

Friday, January 21, 2011

Why We Shouldn’t Be China, Part II

With the Chinese government in town, various shitwits are opining in awe of China’s wonderful economy, saying such stupid things as this:

One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages.

(Actually, that’s from Thomas Friedman’s 2009 article on China.  But since he’s happy to recycle his own stupid ideas, I don’t have a problem with recycling his stupid quotes.  Reduce, reuse, recycle—that’s what I always say.  Think how much progress we’d make on global warming if Friedman didn’t bother to write or speak anymore.)

I can remember when this was happening twenty years ago.  Then, the foreign devils we were supposed to be impersonating were the Japanese.  Al Gore, in particular, praised their Ministry of International Trade and Industry for setting industrial policy and subsidizing all kinds of companies.  That sort of talk died out when the Nikkei began impersonating Greg Louganis and the Japanese government stimulated the country into a two-decade recession. But the need to look at our glorious country and say, “You’re doing it wrong” remains strong in certain quarters.

You know how stupid this China worship is?  It’s so stupid that Matt fucking Yglesias (who’s sounding more and more reasonable these days) can debunk it:

There’s often a tendency to get distracted by rates of change when levels are in many ways more relevant. China is a dynamo and Greece is a basket case, but Greece is much richer than China. Rapid Chinese progress does in part reflects the skill and wisdom of Chinese policymakers. But in large part it merely reflects the madness of a previous generation of Chinese policymakers—the people who left the country at such a low level in 1980 from which it’s so rapidly been growing. If you look at the economic success of Chinese people in Taiwan or Hong Kong or Singapore or diaspora communities around the world, the striking thing about the PRC is how poor it still is.

Bingo.  Earlier this week, I blogged on Amy Chua’s “tiger mother” stuff.  But the fact is that people of Chinese decent --- whether its from genetics, “chinese parenting”, culture or whatever—tend to be very successful in free market economies.  China has one of the greatest natural resources available—a billion Chinese people—and managed to turn that into grinding poverty for decades.  This did not just happen; that poverty was created by vile Maoist policies.  The explosion of Chinese wealth in the last thirty years is not because of some magic formula they’ve discovered (you can read some of Lee’s old blogging on how corrupt their government is).  It’s because fifty years of potential was suddenly unleashed.

And let’s not forget what China’s enlightened “one child” policy—admired by so many on the Left—involves:

The tools that Chinese officials use to enforce this policy include “family planning contracts,” birth permits, gynecological surveillance, fines that may amount to several years of income, denial of employment and government services, and forced abortions, sterilizations, and IUD insertions. CHRD finds that enforcement is wildly uneven, varying from one jurisdiction to another and over time in the same jurisdiction. While women in some parts of the country may get away with bearing an “over-quota” child by paying a fine, elsewhere women in the eighth or ninth month of pregnancy are abducted so their not-quite-born children can be killed and extracted. Areas where limits on family size are flouted for years with impunity may be suddenly subject to crackdowns in which population control officials use fines, property seizures, beatings, arbitrary detention, and kidnapping of relatives to whip people into line.

Sigh.  There have always been those among us who admire authoritarianism.  China’s government is far better than it was under Mao.  But let’s not mistake it for a model we should emulate in any way.

(Unrelated comment: Harley fed me a funny point from Rush Limbaugh.  When Obama hosted the Chinese government, it was the first time a Nobel Peace Prize winner had hosted the people imprisoning another Nobel Peace Prize winner. A good point.  But Obama has to be nice to China.  They are, after all, paying for all his bullshit.)

Posted by Hal_10000 on 01/21/11 at 07:42 AM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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